Luxury Pea, Barley and Ham Soup

More stock makes more of a soup; this recipe produces something more like a stew as pictured.

You can leave out the ham for a fantastic vegetarian dish.

Serves: up to 8 as a starter, and 4 – 6 as a main course




  • 1.5 litres chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • good grinding of black pepper
  • 2 large red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 small onions, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 2cm piece root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 300g yellow split peas
  • 200g pearl barley
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced into thick-ish rounds
  • 1 small yellow pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 broccoli, stems roughly chopped and florets thickly sliced
  • 250g roast ham, chopped or pulled into small bits (optional)
  • dried or fresh thyme, to taste
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey, or to taste


  • Large stockpot


  1. Bring the stock to the boil on the hob with the star anise (if using), bay leaves and ground black pepper. Add the chillies, onion, garlic and ginger.
  2. Once boiling again, add the split peas, barley and carrots. Bring to a rolling boil again, then drop to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add the pepper, broccoli, and roast ham (if using).
  3. Bring back to a rolling boil, then drop again to a simmer on a very low heat. Sprinkle on the thyme, and add the tomato puree and honey.
  4. Leave covered and simmering on the hob for up to 1 hour, stirring frequently, until the soup has thickened and the pulses and veg are tender. Discard the star anise and the bay leaves before serving.

Cook’s Tips
Be adventurous and imaginative: any kind of dried pulse or split pea will do (ensure you pre-soak if instructed to do so on the packet), and any amount of roast ham to your taste. Try adding garam masala, sage, coriander, ground fennel seeds, or mustard … really, anything you like.


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